Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are eligible for GI Bill benefits that can help them to enroll in MBA programs. Many of them look online for information at sites like GIBill.com. Unfortunately, because the government does not play a role in monitoring an online MBA university, these sites that pretend to be authoritative sources of information for veterans are actually sites directing them toward worthless diploma mills. A diploma mill is an unaccredited program that allows degree seekers to have a diploma with little or no effort. Sometimes, all that a degree seeker has to do is to mail in a check in exchange for a diploma.

President Obama recently signed an executive order cracking down on diploma mills that seek to profit from GI Bill money. Until the crackdown commences, returning veterans have to ensure that the online degree programs that they are considering are genuine. US News and World Report has provided five major warning signals that should cause vets to shy away from certain online universities.

Worthless Accreditation

Diploma mill degrees are worthless because they are from colleges not accredited by recognized standards bodies. Credits from schools without accreditation will not transfer to other colleges and universities, and degrees from unaccredited schools are considered worthless by employers. The six regional accrediting bodies for colleges and universities that are recognized by the Department of Education are:

  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • New England Association of Colleges and Schools
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Additionally, trade schools should have accreditation from recognized standards bodies within the industry. For instance, culinary schools are often accredited by the American Culinary Federation Foundation Accrediting Commission.

No Classes, Exams or Studying

Genuine online universities require rigorous coursework similar to that required in an on-campus environment. Diploma mills require no work or tell students that they can be awarded a diploma based on “life experience.”

Free Express Delivery

If students are instructed to send in a check and promised a diploma with free express shipping, chances are that this diploma is completely worthless.

Empty Promises

Steer clear of colleges that promise that within a few short weeks you will earn extra income or a coveted promotion with their degree. In truth, if you try to pass a false credential by your employer, you are more likely to be fired than promoted.

Pre-Approved for Financial Aid

Colleges and universities do not approve people for student aid–the federal government does. Therefore, any online college telling you that you are pre-approved for aid before you submit your FAFSA should be avoided.

Returning veterans deserve GI Bill benefits, and they deserve the chance to get a fresh start with the skills they learned in the military. However, not all online MBA programs are legitimate. Check for accreditation by a recognized organization before paying money to any school. Unfortunately, vets will find no free and easy path to a worthwhile MBA.